8th July 21
Independent boarding schools have a long history of creating well-rounded pupils with excellent results. Most students beginning an A Level course or an International Foundation Programme will not only be striving to gain the best possible grades but yearning to exercise their independence. In many cases these two can act in competition with one another, young people rushing to celebrate their freedom without the requisite life skills and experience to manage this whilst successfully completing a challenging programme of academic study.
At an independent sixth form college such as Abbey College Cambridge the journey to independence is supported and skills introduced and practiced, whilst academic progression is monitored and the whole student is nurtured and developed. The outcome being; a resilient, independent learner prepared to take the next step in life onto university or chosen career path.
Considering the most obvious key requirement for academic progression, the attainment of outstanding academic results, boarding provides an excellent ‘out of hours’ support system for learning. Once in the sixth form most students will be afforded the trust to manage their workload accordingly, but having subject specialists on hand to help or advise students with their assignments or respond to academic needs, ensures that class time can be resolutely more productive. Students can be taught study skills and then the process actively monitored and developed so that the end result is a student who can work efficiently and with confidence. Instilling a strong work ethic in all students is important, but teaching them to overcome setbacks and to persevere is paramount to their future success.
The very nature of boarding allows for many more opportunities for extracurricular activities. Introducing students to a variety of activities will ensure that the students are inspired and open to new experiences and skills. Trying new things helps to develop the student’s resilience and confidence and also allows for the introduction and progression of skills. As young adults, students will also be encouraged to help organise, promote and manage activities, giving them a real sense of ownership and an opportunity to engage in the passions they have outside of the classroom. Time spent in these extracurricular activities is time well spent, not only does it ensure that students enjoy their time in the sixth form, but helps to develop their ability to manage their work and life balance and the ‘whole child’ can flourish. At Abbey College Cambridge we have over 50 clubs and an ongoing programme of trips and activities; students can complete first aid training, visit places of interest across the country, learn an instrument, learn circus skills, join the drama group or even practice their origami, there are myriad opportunities and something to suit everyone.
Boarding at a sixth form college will give students the necessary opportunity and challenge to develop a broader spectrum of life skills. Washing their clothes, making good dietary choices, looking after their health both physical and mental, managing their work load and living in a communal setting are just a few examples of the skills that will prepare them for adulthood and independent living.
Boarding at an independent sixth form college means living with a host of other students from around the world. This in itself is an important experience. Living in a community requires many skills; the ability to compromise, empathy, learning that living as part of a community takes responsibility and commitment, and teaches young people how to establish equality whilst recognising differences and celebrating them. Living with people from around the world ensures that students become comfortable with regard to differing cultures, languages and religions. Students learn to communicate at the highest level. They make lifelong friendships and establish international contacts for the future. At Abbey College Cambridge we have students from more than 40 different countries. Each nationality is recognised and celebrated whilst the whole community is brought together through the shared love of learning and the involvement in extracurricular interests.
The time students spend at an Independent sixth form college is very special. It bridges the gap between school and university, childhood and adulthood. Students will enjoy the experience whilst receiving the best possible training in how to navigate life independently. Students gain the inner confidence to deal with new situations and can adapt to life at University successfully as strong foundations are put in place.